Alexandre is a passionate guy, passionate about vintage cars.
He is the proud owner of his own auto shop and like every person who is truly passionate about classic cars, the most important for him is not to own a unique vehicle but to be able to restore it, bring back its original beauty as if it just got out of the factory line.
Being able to get rid of the rust and the outrages of time is a reward in itself but maybe in the back of his mind, Alexandre might also try to bring back the good old times.
In 2014, Alexandre has decided to work on a well-known classic car which has celebrated its 60th birthday this year: the Citroën traction Avant 15 six H.
Every word is important in this name. 15 points out the horse power, six corresponds to the number of cylinders and H indicates that the car is fitted with the self-leveling hydro pneumatic rear suspension (also called oleo pneumatic).
In the classic cars collectors’ small world, one rarely says “I own a Traction Avant”. One will rather say “I have a 7”, “I have an 11” or “I have a 15”. The number indicates which model of Traction Avant the collector owns.
Therefore, the connoisseurs know immediately which vehicle they are talking about as well as the year it was built, its horsepower, its style and, last but not least, the number of models that were sold - hence its rarity on the collectors market.
For the passionate people, the 15-six H is an exceptional traction car. Beside the fact that it was one of the last models designed by Citroën before it was abandoned in 1957, it was the first vehicle equipped with the lowered, self-leveling suspension system that made the company’s success ever since. This suspension was the same one that was later used on the DS 19, another mythical Citroën model, which put an end to the production of the Traction Avant.
Only 3,077 Traction 15-six Hs were commercialized between 1954 and 1955. And Alexandre is the pleased owner of one of the last known specimens. If all goes well during the restoration, he has decided that he will not part with it.
Alexandre’s 15-six H was discovered by a friend in 2012, hidden in the barn of an old house about to be sold. Its previous owners long gone, forgotten by the successors, this jewel was covered by years of dust and time was slowly and patiently destroying its shine and beauty.
Alexandre is very busy with his professional and family duties but thanks to his wife, he manages to find the time to dedicate himself to his passion. By working very early hours in the morning or late at night during the week, as well as spending a few weekends on this project, he is estimating it will take him up 5 years to bring back the 15-six H to its original beauty.
The most difficult part of the work will be subcontracted: upholstering the seats, restoring the engine or renovating the exterior paint. Nevertheless, he will take care of the most part of the project such as taking apart and putting back together the different pieces, sanding the car, fixing the dents as well as painting some body parts hidden from the admirer’s eye.
For this restoration job, Alexandre is getting a precious help from André, another passionate of mechanics and Jean-Louis, a friend and fellow car collector. Both are as enthusiastic as Alexandre about the 15-six H and André is bringing along his valuable experience as a former mechanic on Formula 1 (F1).